Pretty, and not a pain in the ass
Every single year without fail, I convince myself that I want to make Christmas cookies. And every single year, I end up in the kitchen at 2am, covered in dough, cursing myself and Christmas in general.
Last week, Hailey wrote
about her adventures with candy cane sandwich cookies. She claimed they were easier than the usual rolled-out Christmas cookies, but although the results look delicious, they also look like a pain in the ass.
This year, I finally managed to overcome the cookie guilt, and made marshmallows instead. And it's going to be marshmallows every Christmas from now on, because it turns out that the candies are ridiculously easy to make, cheap, and even look kinda pretty. I made a toasted coconut version from this Epicurious recipe,
but you could do any flavor you like. Step-by-step photos after the jump.
You start by sprinkling gelatin over some water in your mixing bowl. You let that sit, and then you heat sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil. Be careful, because boiling sugar is no joke. Stick a candy thermometer in the pot (get one at any cooking store for $10), and remove the pot from the heat when the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Then, with the mixer running, you just pour the hot syrup over the gelatin and water.
Turn the mixer up to high, and the gelatin and sugar will start to puff up and get white and fluffy, like above. The gelatin might smell funky at this point, but don't worry, that goes away quickly. Mix until it's nice and thick and fluffy. Add whatever extract you like (I used vanilla and coconut). Now pour it into a greased pan.
I put toasted coconut on the top and bottom. You could also do nuts, or sprinkles, or nothing at all. To make the top smooth and even, I sprayed a piece of wax paper with cooking spray, and used that to pack the sticky marshmallow mixture down smoothly. It peels right off after. Now you let the marshmallow sit in the pan for about two hours, until it's set.
Now shimmy the marshmallow out onto a cutting board, and cut it into pieces. The cut sides are sticky, so I dredged them in more toasted coconut, but you could also do powdered sugar.
Done! And the clean up is simple, because the marshmallow stuck to your bowl and spatula dissolves and runs down the drain when you pour hot water on it.
If you're feeling extra Martha-Stewart-esque, you can box up the mashmallows with packs of hot cocoa.